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Friday, April 5, 2013

New Beer Friday, Post-KBS Edition (April 5)

By Chris Siciliano

Well, KBS has come and gone for another year—from a retail perspective, that is. We here at Siciliano's wish you all good luck securing a snifter or two at your favorite watering hole. If we catch wind that anyone has tapped a keg, we'll pass along the information. In fact, if you don't already, be sure to follow us on Facebook. We often post news relevant to the larger beer scene in Grand Rapids, not just the news from Siciliano's.

But I digress. Do you know what I like most about KBS (besides drinking it, that is)? I like the fact that for 12 months, give or take, the beer ages in gypsum mines below Grand Rapids. That might seem an odd thing to celebrate, especially when conditions in the mines can theoretically be reproduced elsewhere on the planet, whereas the skill and experience of Founders brewers, not to mention the "house flavors" of Founders brewery itself, cannot be recreated anywhere.

Nevertheless, something about the story of the gypsum mines appeals to me. It's partly because my own great grandfather helped dig those mines, just as I'm sure many of your grandparents and great grandparents did. It also has something to do with the idea that all year long we go about our business, traveling back and forth across the city, (mostly) ignorant to the fact that somewhere below us, barrel upon barrel of imperial stout is aging in the most geologic of conditions.

But most important, I feel like the gypsum mines physically tie Founders KBS to the city of Grand Rapids. I believe—or maybe I just hope—that KBS is a product of its environment, and the way you can never truly replicate a Czech pils outside of Plzen, or a true Lambic outside of Brussels, is how it is for KBS. Despite having access to all the same ingredients, and even the exact recipe, a brewery in Texas or Colorado could never 100% accurately reproduce KBS. The beer is a direct result of its unique place in the world, just as we are, and I think that's something to be proud of.

New and Returning Beers at Siciliano's

  • Detroit Brewing Co Raddler, $1.69/12oz - "Radler beer is the German version of the English Shandy style, which is a blend of light ale and lemonade. In order to honor our brewing roots, we followed the German method of mixing natural Lemon & Lime flavors into a blend of our Bohemian pilsener and specially crafted Bavarian lager. These methods create a perfectly refreshing summer beverage which has a strong, slightly tart citrus aroma and flavor. This is the best summer brew we have ever made, and we hope that it becomes a part of all your summer traditions" (source).
  • Anderson Valley Heelch O' Hops, $3.09/12oz - "Robust. Brewed with a “heelch” (that means “a lot” in Boontling) of Columbus, Chinook, and Cascade hops, our double IPA has a palate pleasing bitterness that is artfully balanced with a full-bodied malt foundation. With a deep color of polished brass and a nose that sings of pink grapefruit and redwood needles, the rich biscuit-like malt flavors are intertwined with hints of vanilla, mangoes, and peppercorns leading to a deep, warming finish" (source).
  • Southern Tier Hop Sun, 1.69/12oz - "Pour Hop Sun Summer Wheat Beer into a pint glass, give it a long whiff and you’ll realize that this isn’t your average wheat beer. Filtered to a golden clarity and dry-hopped to perfection, Hop Sun is a fantastic session ale in which flavors of wheat, barley and hops co-mingle to a refreshing and zesty conclusion. Hints of lemon and sweet malts waft to the fore as a touch of bitterness contributes to Hop Sun’s bright finish. Enjoy Hop Sun all summer long as a perfect balance to your outdoor recreation. Summer never tasted so good" (source).
  • Abita Spring IPA, $1.69/12oz - "Spring IPA (March-May) is a West Coast-style IPA with an up-front intense hop flavor and aroma. Amarillo and Centennial hops give the brew a rich and resinous flavor of citrus and spice. This bright pale ale has a malt sweetness that will give way to a pleasant bitter. It pairs well with Mexican or spicy Szechwan Chinese food. Spring IPA is a nice accompaniment for cheeses with strong flavors, like sharp cheddar or goat cheese" (source).
  • Sprecher Imperial Stout, $2.09/12oz - "This tremendously rich and thick stout uses a profusion of burnt and caramel malts. A massive mouthful of dark roasted malt and coffee flavors finishes with hints of licorice, fig and currant" (source).
  • Shorts Prolonged Enjoyment, $1.69/12oz (limit one 6-pack/person) - "A session pale ale with huge amounts of earthy hop fragrances of green grass that are complimented by a wildly dry finish" (source).
  • Chitown Lakeshore Lager, $1.79/12oz - "Lake Shore Lager is an excellent example of the dedication and persistence in reaching the fundamentals of producing a great premium hand-crafted lager" (source).
  • Chitown Windy City Wheat, $1.79/12oz - "A Belgian-style wheat ale brewed with honey and spices" (source).
  • Chitown Pier Pale, $1.79/12oz - "Pier Pale Ale has been carefully formulated and zealously taste-tested to surpass even the highest of expectations" (source).
  • Trout River Boneyard Barley Wine, $2.49/12oz - No commercial description available.
  • Trout River Hoppin' Mad Trout, $1.59/12oz - "Our Pale Ale has toasted malt flavors dominated by hops. A fragrant, flowery aroma complements the clean, dry finish" (source).
  • Trout River Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, $1.59/12oz - "A dark, deliciously roasty brew with hints of chocolate in flavor and aroma. Velvety smooth with a dry, roasted finish" (source).
  • Blue Mountain Barrel House Uber Pils, $8.39/750ml - "Behold the subtle power of a beer whose simplicity of elements belies its complex spirit. Pilsener malt, noble Hallertau hops, lager yeast, and deep well water. By scaling up these simple ingredients we’ve turned the German pilsener "imperial" and made one of the world’s most refreshing styles of beer bigger, rounder and even more enjoyable" (source).
  • Blue Mountain Barrel House Steel Wheels, $10.79/750ml - "The music of The Steel Wheels and the beer from Blue Mountain are both original and handcrafted, with inspired Americana flavors from the heart of Virginia. Our collaboration E.S.B. draws from the past with British crystal malts and Scottish yeast, but uses American hops to put our own stamp on the creation. Like this beer, The Steel Wheels draw you in from the first sip … not because their music is loud or in your face, but because it's surprising and original, and because its inspirations – a story, a character, a memory – have been brewed with just the right ingredients. Take time to drink slowly and listen truly. Wherever you are, get ready to sing along, to harmonize. Maybe even get up and dance" (source).
  • Blue Mountain Barrel House Mandolin, $12.19/750ml - "A deep golden beer born of a single malt. Balance derived from whole-flower hops. Created from water drawn deep beneath the feet of the world's oldest mountains. Flavor driven by a faithful dedication to excess. All brought to life by yeast from a holy place. Great beer is a riddle that does not need to be solved! (source).
  • Blue Mountain Barrel House Dark Hollow, $12.19/750ml, $7.09/375ml - "The mystery of great beer challenges the spirit of adventure in all who seek a higher level to this ancient brew. Dark Hollow blends the miracle of two crafts—brewing and distillation—to create a work greater than the sum of its parts. Our imperial stout has been aged in charred American oak bourbon barrels, patiently breathing in and out of the wood, gaining complexity, depth and character" (source).
  • Blue Mountain Barrel House Local Species, $10.99/750, $6.49/375ml - "Different. Secret. Native. A creation of deep-drawn well water, special barley malts, American hops and Belgian yeast. Aged in charred American White Oak bourbon barrels. A beer as original and beautiful as our native Brookie" (source).

St. Bernardus Tokyo | Selected New Beer of the Week

St. Bernardus Tokyo, $12.39/750ml
"A unique, single batch created for the opening
 of the St Bernardus pub in Tokyo" (source).


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